A well-regarded medical and social services program for seniors will shut down its Fairfax facility on Oct. 31, Inova has confirmed to the Fairfax County Times.

The InovaCares for Seniors Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly has provided health, social, and recreational services to people 55 and older in Fairfax since May 2012, when its original building at Main Street and Olley Lane first opened.

The PACE program is a partnership between Inova Health System, Medicare, and Medicaid, but the decision to close was made exclusively by Inova, according to Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services media relations manager Christina Nuckols.

DMAS manages Virginia’s Medicaid program and was “recently” notified that Inova intends to close PACE in Fairfax, Nuckols says.

“The PACE program has been an important component of Inova’s community work, and we are proud of the services we have provided to seniors under our care,” Inova external communications system director Roger Raker said in a statement from the nonprofit health organization. “However, Inova made a decision to close the PACE program, effective October 31, 2018. The program will continue to provide services without interruption until then.”

According to Raker, PACE participants were notified of the impending closure by email and letter, and the program’s interdisciplinary teams have been meeting with participating seniors and their families to discuss alternative options that would meet each individual’s needs.

Inova says it has been reviewing participant needs and developing recommendations in coordination with local health officials, DMAS, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that oversees Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Raker did not elaborate on the reasoning behind Inova’s decision to shut PACE down after six years except to say that “Inova is always evaluating programs and strategies.”

Fairfax’s PACE program currently serves 124 clients and their caregivers, according to Nuckols.

Given the program’s eligibility requirements, Inova’s decision to close PACE will affect a relatively small populace, but the program offered comprehensive, personalized services that are not easily replicated.

Based on a model of care developed in the 1970s, PACE was designed to address the long-term health needs and general well-being of seniors with daytime medical and recreational services while allowing them to live at home with their families.

There are currently 125 PACE programs serving over 45,000 participants and operating 255 centers in 31 states across the U.S., according to the National PACE Association.

InovaCares PACE was open to people 55 or older who resided in the program’s service area, which encompassed Fairfax, Prince William, and Arlington Counties as well as the Cities of Alexandria, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Participants also had to be capable of living safely in the outside community with support at the time of their enrollment while also qualifying for a nursing home level of care.

In addition to providing access to a healthcare team that included physicians, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, and nutritionists, InovaCares PACE offered primary and specialty medical care, physical, occupational, and speech therapy, prescription drug coverage and management, meals and nutrition counseling, adult day care programs, and transportation to and from medical appointments.

The program’s closure comes two years after Inova moved it to an expanded facility on Chain Bridge Road in October 2016.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) joined PACE participants and staff to celebrate the new building on June 26, 2017. At that time, the program was implementing training and programming geared toward patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and InovaCares was hoping to eventually add Loudoun County to its service area.

Fairfax County Health Department communications director John Silcox confirmed that the department has reached out to InovaCares to assist with any clients interested in transitioning to the county’s adult day health care program, which supports adults with dementia, physical impairments, or intellectual disabilities.

Fairfax County operates adult day health care centers in Herndon, Falls Church, and the Lincolnia and Mount Vernon areas of Alexandria.

Nuckols says DMAS officials hope to allow as many PACE participants as possible to remain in their homes and communities as long as they choose. The agency has been working with Inova to transition program clients into other managed-care Medicaid and Medicare plans based on their needs.

Medicaid and Medicare reimburse funding for PACE programs, offsetting costs for services like medication, hospitalizations, and doctors’ appointments that most participants would otherwise not be able to afford.

“InovaCares is meeting individually with participants and their family caregivers to ensure they are informed of all the options available to them,” Nuckols said. “CMS and DMAS are fully prepared to ensure enrollment into a new program is seamless without gaps in services or Medicaid coverage.”

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